Enrique Peña Nieto set to win elections. But is he good for Mexico?
A “quick count” by Mexico’s Federal Electoral Institute or IFE, gave Peña Nieto 38 percent of the vote. Seven points more than leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
By MANUEL RUEDA
Enrique Peña Nieto the presidential candidate for the Institutional Revolutionary Party, (PRI) has declared himself the winner of Mexico’s Presidential election.
According to a “quick count” released by Mexico’s Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) shortly after 11:15pm local time, Peña Nieto has so far obtained 38 percent of the vote, while his main rival leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has obtained 31 percent.
The IFE’s “quick count,” tallies voting results in around 7,000 of Mexico’s 140,000 polling stations. But it takes a sample of voting booths that is supposed to represent all of the country.
PAN candidate Josefina Vazquez Mota, and PANAL candidate Gabriel Quadri have already acknowledged defeat. While Lopez Obrador has said that he wants more votes to be counted. “We will uphold transparency,” Lopez Obrador said. “We have information that differs with that presented by officials.”
Peña Nieto, a 45-year-old from Atlacomulco in Mexico State, would take the reins of a country that has recently lived through some of the worst drug violence in world history.
He will also lead Mexico’s oldest party the PRI, back to the highly-coveted presidential chair which it lost in the year 2000 after being in power for 70 years.
Some in Mexico see the party’s return as a threat to democracy and to Mexico’s economy. In downtown Mexico City a couple hundred supporters of leftist candidate Lopez Obrador protested the results as they waited for him to arrive at a hotel where he would speak to crowds.
“The return of the PRI will be like a nail in the coffin for Mexico,” said Fernando Broca, a 71 year-old lawyer.
“Peña Nieto is nothing more than a pretty face. There are many people behind him like [former President] Carlos Salinas, and [disgraced politician] Arturo Montiel,” Broca said.
A 15 minute drive away at the PRI’s Mexico City headquarters there was a jubilant mood in the air.
A band played under a huge tent set up in the building’s parking lot. Trumpets blared and hundreds of PRI supporters danced to cumbias and grupera music.
“Things were very bad with the PAN,” said 34-year-old Gerardo Gonzalez, talking about the party that has ruled Mexico for the past 12 years, and came in third place in today’s elections.
Gonzalez is an employee at the Department of Health.
“With the PAN, my salary was very low,” he continued. “We hope that Peña Nieto is going to raise salaries.”
For Mexico analyst Eric Olson it is too soon to tell if Peña Nieto’s victory will be good or bad for the country.
“Peña Nieto has to convince the rest of Mexicans that did not vote for him that he’s also a president for them, and not just for his party,” Olson told Univision News. “He will have to show that there’s really a new and modern PRI.”
Olson pointed out that because there were three strong candidates in this election Peña Nieto managed to win with just under 40 percent of the vote, while 60 percent of Mexicans did not vote for him.
Other analysts have been more pessimistic about the PRI’s return.
Denisse Dresser for example, has pointed out to the PRI’s alleged alliance with Mexican media giants, as a sign that the party will want to capture institutions.
“In the face of the PRI’s return, we will have to begin to defend the democratic rights that they are trying to take away,” Dresser tweeted on Sunday night.
John Ackerman, a legal expert at Mexico’s UNAM university, has argued that the PRI hasn’t lost its authoritarian streak, and recently wrote in the LA Times that the most crime-ridden and the most dangerous states for journalists in Mexico are currently ruled by Peña Nieto’s party.
But former foreign minister Jorge Castañeda, and Univision’s anchor Leon Krauze argue that Mexican institutions such as the judiciary, the media and the central bank have changed, and are strong enough to challenge the PRI.
Hector Faya, a politics professor at the Universidad Iberoamericana [a bastion of opposition to Peña Nieto] had a message that might be fitting for Peña Nieto’s rivals.
“Democracy must begin tomorrow,” Faya tweeted. “Let’s keep our eyes on the elected president.”
With additional reporting by Ingrid Rojas, Diana Oliva Cave, James Fredrick.